Contexts of Diffusion: Adoption of Research Synthesis in Social Work and Women’s Studies

  • Laura Sheble
  • Annie T. Chen
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 8393)


Texts reveal the subjects of interest in research fields, and the values, beliefs, and practices of researchers. In this study, texts are examined through bibliometric mapping and topic modeling to provide a bird’s eye view of the social dynamics associated with the diffusion of research synthesis methods in the contexts of Social Work and Women’s Studies. Research synthesis texts are especially revealing because the methods, which include meta-analysis and systematic review, are reliant on the availability of past research and data, sometimes idealized as objective, egalitarian approaches to research evaluation, fundamentally tied to past research practices, and performed with the goal informing future research and practice. This study highlights the co-influence of past and subsequent research within research fields; illustrates dynamics of the diffusion process; and provides insight into the cultural contexts of research in Social Work and Women’s Studies. This study suggests the potential to further develop bibliometric mapping and topic modeling techniques to inform research problem selection and resource allocation.


diffusion social work women’s studies research dynamics 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura Sheble
    • 1
  • Annie T. Chen
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Information & Library ScienceUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA

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